With a new year comes new opportunities – renewed aspirations and refreshed energy to tackle the days ahead. Many times we have thoughts on what we need to change, do more or less of, focus on, or learn, but unless we enact strategies to help us achieve our goals, we might feel like we’re swimming against the current as the year goes on. In my practice and in my classes, I provide the tools and teach the skills needed to reclaim health, happiness, and freedom. 2015 is the year of taking back control. It’s not the doctors, the chiropractors, the nutritionists, nor the yoga teachers that are going to heal us and help us find our truth. We are responsible to search for and seek out what works for us and to incorporate that into our daily lives. There’s no magic pill or quick fix, rather living each moment with awareness and peace. Empowerment is the basis of my work and that’s what the following strategies seek to provide.
1. Make YOU a Priority (because no one else is going to do it)
Make your physical, mental, and emotional health a daily priority, period. Otherwise, you’re as good as useless to those that rely on you. Ever wonder why you’re encouraged to put your oxygen mask on first in the unfortunate event of a plane malfunction before helping others with theirs? It’s because you’re worthless if you’re suffocating. In reality, you’re worthless if you’re metaphorically suffocating, so stop putting yourself last! No more excuses about work, family, or whatever getting in the way of you feeling physically healthy. The key to maintaining mental clarity, balanced energy levels throughout the daily, and an overall feeling of wellbeing is being in peak physical condition and having a balanced schedule that incorporates nurturing all aspects of your being. Here are some tips to start exercising regularly and eating right so you’re not fogged up in the brain.
2. Put Fitness on Your Calendar (Duh!)
It’s not rocket science and it’s not the first time you’ve heard it, so just do it already. If yoga is your fancy, schedule classes into your weekly schedule when you do the rest of your calendar (either monthly or weekly). That way, the time is blocked off beforehand instead of trying to squeeze random classes in last minute. Choose a balance of vinyasa, hatha, and yin throughout your week based on your availability. For instance, maybe you take an early Monday morning Vinyasa Power Flow to get jazzed for the week, a structured Hatha on a Wednesday afternoon to maintain balance, and a soothing Yin/Restorative class Friday evening to unwind from the week. You deserve to not only feel good, but to nourish your mind and soul as well with much-needed yoga (or other physical and spiritual practices).
3. Put Food Prep & Planning on Your Calendar
Get savvy in the kitchen, get to know your food, learn new things! As annoying as it is (and unless you can afford to pay others to prepare all your meals), you have to make time in your schedule each day for food preparation and planning. There are tips and tricks all over the Internet to help you with this so I won’t get too deep into that, but the point is that you have to take the time to do it. I’ve rediscovered the crockpot in 2015. Too often last year, I was dividing my day to everything but food prep. By the time I finished work, my afternoon yoga practice, ran to the store, got home, prepped my ingredients, and cooked the food, we were eating dinner at 9:30 pm! Now, I’m making it a priority in the morning to see what we have in the fridge, plan dinner from that and see if I need any other ingredients, and then I prep all the food in the morning. If I’m using the crockpot, I get that going and we’re eating dinner now at 7 or 8 pm. We also got a juicer, so we’ve been juicing twice a day to detox 2014 away. We have a base of cheaper organic vegetables (beets, carrots, celery, lemons) and add only a few fancier items here and there to keep cost down. We’ll eventually juice once a day most likely after we feel like its time.
4. Learn Tips to Make Healthy Eating Easier
In this day and age, there are countless video tutorials on how to be a badass in the kitchen. Go on YouTube once a day to watch a 1 – 5 minute video on any number of topics like how to properly chop an onion, how to preserve beet greens, how to store different vegetables to maximize shelf life, or whatever! The knowledge will last you a lifetime and will save you time and money. I’ve learned the most useful tricks from watching short videos, and I use them constantly in my kitchen.
One tip I learned that I’m really stoked about is that you can save a ton of money and be earth friendly by recycling your old veggie scraps. As I’m prepping veggies, I throw all the scraps (onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, garlic, and more!) into a freezer bag and leave it in the freezer and once it’s full, I throw them in the crockpot, and follow these steps to make my own homemade organic (free!) veggie broth. You can also save scraps to throw in your juicer. It’s easy to do on-line searches to find what’s good for stock, what’s good for juice, and so on.
Another awesome tip for the crockpot: if you’re cooking for 2, find a recipe for 4 (double the recipe you need basically) and prepare all the ingredients. Whatever you throw in the crockpot, throw half in a freezer bag and freeze. Then one day during the next week or two, when you know you might be especially busy, put it in the fridge the night before and put it in the crockpot in the morning. Instant homemade dinner!
My last kitchen tip for you is to check your fridge and pantry each morning or when you’re meal planning. Take inventory of what you have and what should be used first. You are sure to minimize the amount of waste you produce and save money by being more efficient. I keep an ingredient list on my phone of all the spices and such that I have so I don’t buy double of things and know what I need instantly (without having to scavenge through my cabinets) and if I’m looking for dinner ideas, I just type: “Vegan Dinner Recipe __________________ (insert ingredients I have here)” into my search bar to get ideas. I might make something exactly like the recipe or use it to get ideas and then substitute things I have.
If you can’t meditate or you don’t have time, meditate. If you hate meditating, meditate. If you think of 20,000 other things, meditate. The activity of constantly coming back to stillness is the practice, even if you suck at it right now. You’ll get better and it will improve your life. Don’t take it from me, take it from the hundreds of wise people and sages that came before!
6. Stop Buying Crap!
Okay? Just stop. We don’t need 90% of the stuff we own and I know this because I lived in a house in the jungle for 6 months with close to nothing. Yea, sure I had WiFi, a laptop, basic amenities, but I definitely didn’t have pounds of makeup, closets full of clothes, or rows of shoes. I try to emulate that back in California as much as possible. Of course people in certain professions or regions need to dress appropriately, but the excessive consuming of goods needs to stop for the benefit of the earth. Shop for consigned clothing, support local brands with ethical practices that give back to their communities, and give away stuff you don’t use. Aside from daily necessities like food and bills, I’m down to only buying consigned clothes or clothes my friends make (I’m lucky to know some rad designers!), things we need for the kitchen, books, spiritual things (incense, things for our altar, candles), and toiletries/cleaning products (though I make most of my own). Learn what you can’t live without and what’s fluff.
7. Get Rid of Crap
Similarly, make space. Clutter in your area is clutter in your mind. My goal for 2013 was to get rid of stuff and it’s evolved to a whole new lifestyle. I became an Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist master. So much so that many people started giving me their things to sell and we split the profits. Getting rid of became an addiction that lasted, a healthy one I might add. I’ve never regretted letting go and I’m so detached from physical objects now in ways I never imagined I could be. I wanted to have only enough personal belongings to fit into my car and I’m pretty close to that now. I got married since then so it’s a little more challenging but I’ve stayed true to my goal. I focus on one area of the apartment every few weeks to go through, clean up, and donate/recycle things we’re not using. I invested in a Neat Scanner that scans and organizes all forms of paper (business cards, statements, legal or tax forms, recipes, whatever!) and shredded all the paper I was hauling around (ensure to back up your documents on a few different sources if you do this). I do that once every few months now when I notice the paper piling up. You will feel so amazing, I promise!
What are your strategies to declutter, eat right, exercise, and get balanced?